Refugees can now get vaccinations in Johnson County

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IOWA CITY — Refugees will no longer have to travel outside Johnson County to receive immunizations.

The Johnson County Public Health Department will begin providing immunizations for refugees every Wednesday, beginning this week.

Previously, only Linn and Polk counties provided the services so refugees looking to finish immunizations or adjusting their status had to drive or find a ride.

Tricia Kitzmann, interim director for Johnson County Public Health, said organizations such as ICCompassion and the Catherine McAuley Center brought the issue to Johnson County Public Health’s attention.

Refugees are required to have initial medical examinations after settling in the United States. Typical vaccinations for all Americans — such as vaccines for measles, mumps, tetanus and polio — are a requirement of the examinations.

“We had several refugees that needed them done,” Kitzmann said. “We didn’t know there was a need. We then thought this would be a great opportunity to provide for our own community, to take down the barriers for those looking to get through the immunization program.”

Since the Johnson County Public Health office, at 855 South Dubuque St., is at a bus stop, Kitzmann said refugees no longer have to set aside a day to travel to get immunizations.

The once-a-week clinic also makes it easier for secondary refugees, those who first settled in a different U.S. city and later moved, to have follow-up immunizations, Kitzmann said. Those looking to apply for their one-year adjustment of status also can receive vaccines.

The department is also working with Dr. Cecilia Norris, medical director of the Iowa City Free Medical Clinic, who will act as the supervising physician and sign the form to prove refugees have had the required vaccinations.

To get shots:

• Call Johnson County Public Health, (319) 356-6042, to schedule a Wednesday appointment.

• Pay a flat fee of $15 and other costs not covered by insurance.

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